Not A Plant For Control Freaks…

Jul 29, 2017 | Love This!


Fran loved her purple angelica. When it came into flower in mid summer and the bees crowded into the blooms, she smiled. But her husband, Bob, wasn’t charmed.

“What is this plant doing here?” he’d say when the Angelica stricta seeded in random places between the shrubs and around the veggie garden. “Did you plant this?”

“The fairies planted it,” Fran would respond, knowing that Bob wasn’t really listening. “It’s their gift to me since they know it makes me happy.”

Bob was moving on and began talking about something else, and part of Fran wanted to just let him go. But beauty is important, she reminded herself. An noticing it is really, really important.

So she caught Bob’s am and pulled him back. “Look at this closely, Sweetheart,” she said gently. “See how the flowers look like fireworks? Notice how the pale pink blooms complement the purple-green stems. And look at those bees going crazy and knocking into each other!”

Bob focused on the bees as they scrambled to gather the pollen, and soon he and Fran began laughing. “Will you look at that,” he exclaimed. “It’s really very pretty, isn’t it?”

Fran smiled, saying a silent “thank you” for small miracles.

Name: Angelica stricta purpurea aka Angelica sylvestris purpurea aka purple angelica.

Type of Plant: A biennial – it grows one year, blooms the next and then it dies. So it wanders around the garden and landscape. Not a plant for control freaks!

Why I love this: It’s an easy plant to pull when it seeds where you don’t want it, but when it appears in just the right spot it’s magic! But be forewarned that this plant will indeed seed in areas where you don’t want it.

It’s a bee and wasp magnet, and a plant that often appears in gravel as well as in the garden. It’s a traveler…aka a party crasher.

A Word to the Wise: This is a plant you’ll most likely have to start from seed. It’s not something that you’ll find the garden center or box store. It’s also not one you’ll be able to control to one area of the garden. And it’s not long-lived. So dc For everyone else, it’s worth it. 

Pull the young ones promptly when they are in the wrong place. Not a plant for the person who isn’t likely to be editing and weeding out unwanted seedlings that appear.

You can buy seed from Annie’s Annuals.

I love the way the flowers change from darker mauve/purple to lavender. The foliage also transforms…it starts out purple in the spring and turns to a dark green with almost black stems later in the summer.

This year the purple angelica traveled to the gravel area around my shed. Perfect placement!

See the honey bee on this flower? There were at least four species of bees and wasps working these flowers when I was taking these photos. They were, however, camera shy and mostly flew off as soon as I pointed the lens at them.


  1. Joanne Podles

    Love it! want it! And I’m gonna get it! Thanks for your show, you are an inspiration!

  2. Debby Gunschel

    I love this plant and have planted it in my garden several times. I was fascinated with how the flower opens. As the adult plant gives birth, slowly, unfurling for several days until the flower is fully open. I also saw these in England where the gardener planted them in a mass of 10 or so in the back of her perennial bed and it made a very beautiful, vertical statement in her the back of her perennial bed..


  3. Erik Johnson

    Can this be eaten like A. archangelica? Will black swallowtail caterpillars enjoy it?

    • CL Fornari

      Yes, it is edible. I am not aware that black swallowtails like this plant, even though it’s in the Apiaceae family like the parsley and other plants that they prefer.


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